Tuesday, June 28, 2011

TRANSFORMERS: DARK OF THE MOON review: He said/She said

Directed by Michael Bay
Written by Ehren Kruger
Starring: Shia LaBeouf, Josh Duhamal, Tyrese Gibson, Patrick Dempsey, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, and Frances McDormand
Synopsis: A Cybertronian spacecraft, The Ark, has crashed on the moon, and the Autobots, with the help of the humans, and Decepticons battle each other to figure out the secret held within The Ark.

Overall Impressions:

Javi: You start as the non-Transformers fan.

Jonesy:  Well, I made it a point throughout the movie to not ask you who any transformers were because I wanted to see as the non-nerd if I could recognize who was who, whether good or bad. Unfortunately, unless they were brightly colored, I could not tell them apart most of the time.  I could recognize Optimus, Bumblebee, and the little ones.  The bad guys all looked the same to me, apart from Megatron.  Overall, I don't understand how this movie is part of a trilogy.  It feels more like a standalone movie than a continuation of the last two.  It's an... okay movie.  The action scenes are amazingly worth the 3D prices.

Javi: I would say that it's better than AVATAR.

Jonesy: Oh, it's as good as HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON.

Javi: I would put that on a different category though.  Animation 3D is always different than live action.

Jonesy: Great point, then I would say that it's the best live action 3D I've seen.  It is worth the mark-up.  But the movie was very middle of the road.

Javi: My problem was that the movie had a lot of potential.  I feel this is comparable to how people seemed to hate GREEN LANTERN more for being a disappointment rather than an actual lack of quality.  Like for me, THOR was just a very boring middle of the road movie.  GREEN LANTERN had a great back story but failed miserably on its execution, which is why it has a lower Rotten Tomatoes score than MR. POPPER'S PENGUINS.  That's why I'm so annoyed at DARK OF THE MOON because it had a lot of great ideas going on for it.  It had a good set up; I liked the conspiracy theory aspect of it, and how the scope of the movie seemed way bigger, even before I knew what the actual intent of the actual Space Race. This movie introduces a lot of concepts and events that you only hear whispers about and are never properly explained.  I felt the movie took a long time to do the most trivial shit that was just inconsequential to the overall plot, and it didn’t even take the time to explain why the new Autobots are here on Earth or what Megatron has been doing. I understand there are prequel comics and the video game, but I shouldn't have to pay $60 to understand this movie.

Jonesy: I agree. I shouldn't have to pre-read background information before seeing this movie, and yet this movie felt more independent than the other two. This one stands off on its own in tone and continuity. And it doesn't make sense to me in the scope of the trilogy.


Jonesy: I think if Michael Bay went in with the intention of making a fun action movie where the characters were nothing more than caricatures, it would be hilarious.  You have a lot of characters that are very “out there” and extreme, and they don't go seem to exist in the same world as Sam and the Non-Megan Fox. It doesn't fit; it seems that half of the cast was on the wrong set.  Bay has always said he's not an acting person...

Javi: That's no excuse.

Jonesy: But if he went balls to the walls crazy with characters, it would have made for a far superior movie.

Javi: Once again, any time you had a lot of screen time with the humans, it felt like the story took a nose-dive.  (And no, this isn't the fan boy going, "Oh dur I just want to see cool robots and explosions.") For example, Sam's parents show up in two very inconsequential sequences, and all they do to the momentum and fairly good suspense in the first third of the movie is grind them to a halt with their inane and moronic moments that don't matter in the end.  At two and half hours, the movie surprisingly never felt like it was long and my brain didn't hurt, but with that running time, there are too many characters that get packed in that just don't add anything to the plot. If we're going off of the fact that this is the third in a trilogy, then there is no reason why 23 year old Sam Witwicky should still act as duchy, immature, and socially awkward as his 16 year old self. It got annoying after a while.

Jonesy: His character has not evolved at all.

Javi: You're right, and what is his character arc? That he is brave?

Jonesy: He almost had this existential crisis, since he was so used to "saving" the world, and then after being thrust into the real world, he acts like doesn't know his purpose in life anymore.

Javi: That arc would have been cool if they had gone anywhere with it, but they didn't.

Jonesy: He just came off as whiny.

Javi: You know what was also a huge waste of a character? The Cole Train! (Gears of War Reference) And his character was so under-used.

Jonesy: Aw, I didn’t get that reference.


Javi: The story was very uneven, and it never focused enough on the important things such as character development and exposition.  In the previous movies, there was a lot of exposition and was a problem. But in this instance, I would have loved a wee-bit more explanation as to where the new Autobots came from, or why Megatron is where he was at the beginning of the movie, or random characters came out of nowhere.

Jonesy: I noticed some exposition, but what happened were different people told it, like Patrick Dempsey and Frances McDormand, so it didn't seem as random or excessive.

Javi: I felt it would have been beneficial to be shown some of this though. For example, when Optimus has his opening monologue, why not show the Autobots arriving on Earth, or maybe explaining what happened to the ones that went missing?  Or random Autobots that have apparently been on Earth since the second movie but we've never seen them? I'd rather take those scenes than say...Ken Jeong acting a bit homo-erotic. Put it this way, there are no robot-testicles, but there is still a lot of dumb humor.  And what's worse is that the movie's plot doesn't make sense.  The whole human conspiracy theory aspect with the space program will leave you scratching your head, especially considering the fact that Megatron has been around Earth for millions of years and was discovered around the late 1800's and had the Hoover Dam built around him.  So how was it that The Ark crashing on the Moon was such a huge deal if NBE-1 has been around?

Jonesy: Weren't there Transformers back in ancient Egypt as well?

Javi: Yes, and also, the fact that they made such a big deal about the Moon mission where they reveal that only 35 people actually knew what happened with the Lunar Landing, and yet in the first movie, you have Sector 7 who will just let anyone in on their bases and they actually have an actual alien in their custody?

Jonesy: I do really enjoy when a fantasy movie is set in modern times and they find a way to mess with history a bit.  It’s always really clever and fun.  And I was on board with that aspect... until you pointed all those inconsistencies out.  Speaking of history, the look-alike Presidents looked atrocious. Why not just use old footage instead? It's nitpicky, but when that glaring visual starts off your movie, you know it's going to be weird.

Javi: Jumping on another topic, with how some of the Decepticons die in this movie, it makes me wonder how the hell did the war on Cybertron go on fighting for millions of years? It's not a spoiler; it just goes with the way the Decepticons die throughout the whole movies. 

Jonesy:When you think about the violence that Optimus inflicts on people, it would appear that he's just a crazy walking deus ex machina truck.  Plus he talks to Sam, he’s like a bad fortune cookie. 

Javi: Then the Wreckers were such throw-aways.  I’m glad they looked like hillbilly stereotypes, but didn't sound like hillbilly stereotypes.

Jonesy: It was barely apparent to me that they were NASCARs in the movie.  They were just there to replace the Twins. 

Javi: And what happened to Jolt (electric car that hooks up Optimus to Jetfire's corpse) or Arcee (the bicycle sisters)?

Jonesy:  Until the middle act of the movie, I kept on thinking why they didn't start with this movie in the franchise?  The whole space race and the scope just felt more compelling, while the other ones just feel smaller.

Final Thoughts:

Javi: This movie really disappointed me, not just as a Transformers fan, but these movies aren't the true stories really.  The best Transformers are the TV series, such as Beast Wars, Beast Machines, Transformers: Animated and Prime, because they have great writing such.  However, I'm looking at this as a movie fan, but it's just not something I could recommend beyond a 3D matinee.  You can tell that Michael Bay was trying to get back to the good standing of the first movie, but there was the complete lack of focus, very uneven pacing and really bad dialogue.  This is Martin Lawrence-bad sort of dialogue.  It had so much potential, and I can go ahead and say that Ehren Kruger should not be allowed to write for a movie that has a budget over 25 million.  The theory during the production of movie two was Kurtzman and Orci really had it out with Bay, and Bay brought in Kruger to "fix" the script, and he was supposedly responsible for all of the worst jokes of the movie.

Jonesy: The movie is just okay. It is worth seeing in on 3D, which looks fantastic, and the apart from the fact I don't recognize most of the robots, the action looked clear, and I could tell what was going on. 

Javi: The action sequences in this movie made sense! It was so well shot, that I think that 3D is the only way that Michael Bay should shoot movies from now on because 3D brings out the best of his style by forcing him to not make so many cuts. Even though the action is good, nothing here compares to the forest fights of RETURN OF THE FALLEN.  There were a lot of good sequences, like on the highway with the Dreads, but still it didn't feel like it was enough. 

Jonesy: Unfortunately, the biggest fault of this movie was the story, and if the story is bad then the action has to back it up, and towards the end, there weren't that many action sequences to do that.

Javi: The last action sequence in the third act didn’t feel as crazy as it needed to be.  It felt too episodic because the action was broken up, and it killed the momentum of the battle.

Jonesy: And even the boss fight was such a let down and almost an afterthought.

Javi: As a final note, if this is supposed to be the conclusion of the trilogy, the ridiculously abrupt ending does zero justice to any supposed "story" or "character arcs" that might have transpired through this series.  

No comments:

Post a Comment